Wednesday, May 20, 2015

An Office Romance

I do the majority of my writing during the school day, alone in my quiet house or surrounded by others toiling away on their own projects in coffee shops. I accomplish very little once the kids arrive home from school; we spend many of our afternoons hustling from one activity to the next, and when we do stay home, my productivity, at least as far as writing is concerned, is poor at best thanks to the cooking and cleaning and laundry and homework and mediation services I provide.

Once school lets out for the summer, my overall productivity level, again with regard to writing, drops dramatically. Between swimming lessons and dance camps and picnics and soccer games and playdates and later bedtimes, the amount of time available for writing is minimal. I fit in between 45 and 60 minutes a day…maybe 75 minutes on a rare, the-kids-are-exhausted-and-fell-asleep-on-the-floor-of-their-rooms kind of day. And when quantity strikes out, quality had better step up to the plate.

When I figuratively flipped from April to May on my virtual calendar, I started thinking about how I can make what little writing time I have during the summer months more productive. I want to use the hour or so I plan to spend locked in my office efficiently, but I would also like for those 60 minutes to feel like a peaceful, relaxing, enjoyable respite. After all, the "good stuff" just doesn't flow when I feel stressed. (Have you ever tried to write about tornado preparedness while someone-who-shall-remain-nameless pounds on the office door begging for a staple gun, strawberry frosting, and the cat's hairbrush? I have, and let me tell you, it's not easy.)

My strategy is twofold. First, I plan to approach writing the same way I approach exercise. At the beginning of each week I figure out when, where, and how daily exercise will fit into my schedule and add it to the calendar. My preference is to take a class at the gym or use the gym's cardio and/or weight equipment, but there are times when my schedule only allows for a short walk or run outside or an exercise DVD in my living room. But whatever the case, and no matter how busy my weekday, I find that time for me, for my physical and mental wellbeing. I need to guard my writing time the same way I guard my exercise time, so I plan spend a few minutes each Sunday afternoon adding blocks for writing to my calendar for the week.

Second, I need to make my writing space - our home office - more inspirational, motivational, and comfortable. (If given a choice, I prefer to work on the living room couch. But with kiddos in the house that just doesn't work.) Here's what I've accomplished so far:

I cleaned off and dusted the desk and shelves and then put back only what I needed in a more organized fashion.

I added a few fun accessories - a soy wax candle, a vintage pencil/pen holder (it may have once been a planter or a candle holder), a single flower (that I took from one of the bouquets given to Hallie after her dance recital - don't tell), and my "hey y'all" pillow - to make the room feel more cozy and comfortable.

And then to make the office feel like home, I added a little photo my kiddos peeking out at me from behind my paperwork, my Texas "LOVE" painting, the two beautiful paintings of our homes that my parents gave Tom and me for Christmas. 

What better place to write about the ups and downs of life than a space that tells my story? I love it.

My office to-do list still includes a little touch-up painting (I can't focus if when I look around the room I see unfinished projects), possibly purchasing a new desk chair, and creating a "do not disturb - Mama's working" sign for the door.

Ha. As if a sign like that will actually keep my kiddos from barging in, unannounced and uninvited, on my office relationship.

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